Chapter 16: Artemis vs. Hot Mexican Salsa
It wasn’t long till the man of the hour arrived with food. He was tall with light, brown hair, tan completion, and a smile that covered half of his face. Gig explained that Sky was their resident chef and came only to cook dinner with the help of the girls. Blossom, Cross and Spin went into the kitchen and began to prepare for Sky’s intrusion. Soon the counter was filled with bags, plastic containers, cutting boards, plates, pots, and pans. Artemis felt a little uneasy as Spin expertly grabbed a knife from the knife holder and began slicing some marinated beef into long yet bit sized pieces.
The room erupted with noise as the video game changed from Guitar Hero to Gears of War 3. Artemis didn’t like this game as much as the guitar game. For one now they had the surround sound on so loud that the glasses on the table vibrated with every explosion. The video game called Gears of War 3 was a third person tactical shooter game with an emphasis on cover. The multi-player sequence allowed up to four people to play at once. The game involved, what Artemis could only describe as, Neon colored, plastic versions of Kalashnikovs shooting at the screen as the virtual enemies on the other end died. What a perfect way to encourage marksmanship thought Artemis, he wondered if the video game was in fact training them for real live combat with Control.
The rest of the guys who were playing the game were beginning to get hot and sweaty, the new Extened that had joined the group not too long ago, called Nos, was screaming at Nerv to stop wasting ammo on worthless targets, while Gig attempted to keep all of them focused on the mission. Artemis was impressed by Gig’s ability to lead a team and all of his team’s skill, as Nerv killed an enemy with one shot to the head, heeding Nos’s call to conserve firepower. Artemis had heard of this game before, it was the first game of its kind to use real life sort of weapons as controllers, and had been sited many times by committees to have these tools banned because they supported putting guns, or gun like items in the hands of kids and teenagers. Only a small number of games had been sold, and due to the demand and the restrictions, the prices had soured, Artemis was awed, perhaps they did have resources after all.
The game finished as virtual blood ran down all of the screens and all of the men feel to the floor exhausted, Gig turned to Artemis his head resting on the back of the couch cushion.
“So has Butler ever taken you out and showed you how ta shoot?” Asked Gig as he opened a can of Red Bull and downed it in under a minute. Artemis thought for a moment, truthfully, no he hadn’t Artemis could think of no reason why he would need to, he would always have Butler.
“No I haven’t.” Said Artemis, a hand came from behind Artemis’s right ear holding a glass of water. Gig looked up and so did Artemis, it was Sky. Gig took the glass and handed it to Artemis. Artemis turned the whole way around and realized to his horror that no one was standing behind him. Indeed Sky was on the other side of the room string a pot of something steaming heavily with his right hand as his left arm retracted the distance of the counter and the walkway in-between the kitchen and living room. Artemis looked at Sky who simply smiled and went back to stirring. Artemis felt a tap on his shoulder.
“So you’re interested in each of our powers right? I mean you looked like you had a crush of Sky a minute ago,” Said Gig smiling, Sky picked up on the conversation.
“Sorry Artemis you’re not my type.” Sky’s eyelashes fluttered in Nos’s direction as Nos proceeded to through one of the pillows across the room. Sky ducked expectedly still holding onto the spoon as if it he were still standing there. Artemis rounded on Nos.
“So what is your capability?” Nos’s eyebrows snapped together as he scrutinized Artemis’s words.
“Oh come’ on you make it sound like I come with available features like stability control!” Nos threw his hands up in the air. Artemis pressed more now all eyes on him, like he was a self solving Rubrics cube.
“I’m called Nos because I’m the mechanic around here. We’ve got a few decent rides all custom by me and a few of us.” He looked around the circle to give credit where it was due. “You know, like Nitrous Oxide? Nitrous oxide (N2O) the chemical compound, we use as an oxidizing agent which increases an engine’s power output by allowing more fuel to be burned than would normally be the case.” Nos leaned over. “But that’s not all I can do.” He leaned back to his original position and jumped up doing a double back flip above to couch and landing on the counter with one hand.
There were hoots and hollers coming from everywhere as Nos began to perform countless numbers of tricks always landing on one hand. Artemis was wondering how this display of athletics could be considered inhuman when Gig answered his question.
“He’s a cocktail too, his muscles are like mine because they are very compact yet powerful; however his legs have been targeted to the point where now he can jump five stories. We do know however that he is part Goblin due to, well, ugh . . . .” Gig bit his lip. “You’ll see . . . “ Gig sat up and waved his right hand. “Hey Nos show Artemis a fireball!” Nos stopped his dance and glanced over at Blossom who nodded.
“You kidding I’ll light this place up!” Yelled Nos, Artemis smirked at the cliché comment. Then suddenly a fireball the size of a air-conditioning unit materialize between Nos’s hands, Artemis could feel the heat and instinctively stood up now on guard, his very skin could feel the magic coming from Nos’s body. Nos threw the fireball at Blossom who had created a slightly larger blue orb which absorbed the fireball like a bubble. The moment the fireball completely entered the orb Blossom put both hands on the top and bottom of the sphere and it disappeared. Artemis blinked unable to grapple with the reality of what he was seeing. Artemis dumbly pointed to Nos and then Blossom and sighed. Artemis became aware that everyone was looking at him again, that was everyone except Spin, who was the only person making as sound, after all the cheese wouldn’t slice itself.
“That’s hot.” Said Artemis sounding drained. At once the room was alive with laughter and everyone began conversing once again.
Gig’s hand landed on Artemis’s shoulder once again just as there was a loud CLANG! In the kitchen. Cross had dropped a pair of metal tongs. Sky smiled again, half his face was now teeth, and told her it was alright. Blossom was beginning to transfer all of the food which had been cooking for the last hour to the bar where plates and silverware were laid out for everyone to grab some. It was like a cafeteria. Artemis had never been to the one at his school but he had heard enough about it to know not to go there for lunch.
Artemis’s nostrils were filled with an aroma which seemed to season his very olfactory receptors. He had no idea what it was, a type chili maybe but, no, this was different. Artemis stood next to Gig as the entire team lined up along the counter and began filling their plates, the cooks on the kitchen side and the gamers on the living room side.
“Gig what kind of food is this, I recall you said we were having Mexican however I don’t think I’ve ever had Mexican food before.” Gig smiled.
“Look I’ll explain what everything is to you okay? I’ll even tell you what is awesome and what you may not like kay? Just so you know this kind of meat is called fajita meat, and we’re eating fajitas, get it?” Artemis still wasn’t sure if he could trust Gig, I mean after all he was Spin’s second in command. The counter was filled with a variety of meats, vegetables, and salsas all of which Artemis would never dream of eating. Being raised in Ireland his tastes were much milder like that of clam chowder with very little peppers, and garlic. The meat sizzled as the hungry teenagers took tortillas on one side of the counter, filled them with meat vegetables and salsa and sat down in their respective places around the room. The candles on the far side of the room flickered with the movement of air and voices. Everyone congratulated and thanked Sky for preparing the meal. Artemis was now holding a plate from Gig which consisted of two tortillas each with different colored salsa, meat, and vegetables. Sky smiled as Artemis made his way down the line and grabbed a glass of a light green colored drink Artemis didn’t recognize.
“I hope my cooking is up to your tastes, it’s not Butler quality but we thinks it’s awesome.” Artemis forced a smile and shook Sky’s hand, sky looked mystified and then looked to his right where Spin eyed them both, scowling as she had been the whole evening. She walked in-between the two and sat down on the right side of the couch against the far wall. Everyone seemed to take their places as Sky said farewell to the group, shaking hands and hugging a few, it was like a band of brothers, Artemis thought. Artemis landed over to Gig.
“Where is he going with the rest of the food?” Commented Artemis noticing the large bags of meat and vegetables that Sky had grabbed.
“Ohh that’s for Secondary.” Gig met Artemis curious gaze and sighed putting down his tortilla mostly filled with meat. “We have seven complexes in total however we only use two of them. We are currently in Primary, as you know, and the rest of the Extenedes is in the Secondary complex which we call Secondary.” Artemis looked inquiringly at Gig who proceeded to roll his eyes. “Remember when I said there were ten of us approximately?” Artemis nodded. “Well do you see ten people here?” Artemis understood now, Spin had been thorough with her plan it was a simple ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ approach but it was impressive nonetheless.
Everyone had sat down in their places. Nos and Fro sat beside one another on the coach next to the sliding glass doors, Nerv, Gig and Cross sat next to one another on the middle couch and Blossom sat on the edge of the coffee table facing them all. Spin sat down on the couch against the wall, scowling as she had before, alone. There was nowhere else to sit Artemis had no choice he would have to sit next to her.